Oct 312011
 

Belarc Advisor is a highly rated and detailed program that builds a profile of any Windows computer and presents it to the user in html format to review in a browser. The detailed system profile includes installed software and hardware, network details, missing and installed Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status and also security benchmarks.

Belarc Advisor

Belarc Advisor begins by asking and downloading security advisories to accurately check the system for the latest security and hotfixes released by Microsoft. It then starts to build a profile, a process that usually takes a couple of minutes, it will also survey the local network for information about the network the computer may be on. When the process is complete the report opens automatically in the computer’s default browser.

A non-exhaustive list of information included is operating system and system users which includes users’ last accessed date(s), system model (if possible with a link to the manufacturer’s support site), processor, graphics card and display specifications, motherboard model, (any) virtual machines running, USB controller and devices used in past 30 days, any local and network drives plus a network map of sorts, any printers installed, virus protection information and details about all installed and any missing hotfixes (KB numbers, release dates and some information about them via a link to the Microsoft’s knowledgebase site). Perhaps most useful to some is a list of any product keys it can find, including Windows’ own and a list of all software installed as well.

Belarc Advisor keeps the information local on the computer. It runs on computers as old as Windows 95 and is free for personal use.

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Oct 272011
 

The Carbon Footprint Calculator (Version: 2.1 as of this post) is a small and simple tool that helps act as a rough guide to how much Carbon Dioxide emissions a person or household is responsible for.

The Carbon Footprint Calculator

Environmental concerns and the issue of climate change are often debated and mentioned, even here on RGdot.com, and some of us believe that the time for debate has long passed and we must act quickly to ensure a better and healthier future. That debate aside, The Carbon Footprint Calculator provides rough estimates and is educational at least.

It asks and uses numbers for fuel efficiency of owned vehicle(s), total distance driven, flown, traveled by rail and by bus in one year. Other numbers used for the calculation are the amount of electricity, gas and oil used. More curiously it also asks about the types of bank accounts one uses, the type of clothes one buys and also about the types of appliances purchased and recreational and food eating habits too. The final result is given in the standard unit for emissions, tons. The program is free of spyware – this can be checked on softpedia.com for example – and it does not ask any personal details so it is safe to just play around with it.

Reports can be printed and/or saved in its own cfc format and a details or summary pie chart is generated too. The Carbon Footprint Calculator is good for a simple look at what harm each of us do to our planet.

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Oct 232011
 

Bram stands for Batch Renamer and Mover. It is a simple tool that does what its name says.

Bram

It works both with folders (and optionally its subfolders with configurable depth) and if required with files alone skipping any folders that may exist along side them. Bram can also filter to specific file types and ignore others and one can also select only the files needed using the native windows’ method utilizing the Shift and Ctrl keys.

The renaming part can configured using the Parts button with any combination of sequential numbers, current file name, file extension, parent’s folder name and date format. The date format itself has many options accessed via the Change Date Format button and includes variations on how the date is written for the renamed files based on the files’ own created or last modified dates.

The user can preview the results and finally to complete the renaming to click Apply which has its own set of actions (click on the arrow to the right of apply to view and choose one.)  These actions are rename, copy and rename, move and rename, rename then copy, only move, only copy, and delete. The actions are explained on a dedicated page. Of them rename then copy might cause confusion and the aforementioned page describes it as “Rename then Copy renames the original items, then it copies them to a location you specify. (So both the originals and the new copies are renamed.)”

There is an undo feature to revert the last set of files to their original state and also a log file for review as well. Bram requires the .NET framework.

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Oct 192011
 

Imagine (Version: 1.0.8 as of this post) is a full featured image viewer and thumbnail browser. It features rotate, flip, negative and other common effects and filters. Support for plugins and command line parameters as well. It also supports animation creation, a feature less common in image viewers.

Imagine

Via Tools —> Animation Factory one can create animations.  It supports setting delays between frames, setting transparency, resizing the animation, fliping frames horizontally or vertically and even manipulating the colors of the images. It is also possible to extract frames from an existing animation.

Another feature often missing or incomplete in many image viewers is to not only be able to open archive files but to be able to get proper thumbnail views of the images inside. Imagine supports this in ZIP, RAR, 7Z, ALZ, HV3, CBZ, CBR and CB7 formats and in my tests supports them well.

Imagine supports EXIF data and their retention when re-saving images. Shell extension support is here too. Via Options —> Shell Extension the preview of an image will be available when right clicking it.

Imagine can create multiple page images, do batch conversions, show slideshows and take screenshots. The latter was a bit different as it somehow proceeded to take many screenshots, not just one, when the trigger method was set to ‘automatically after X seconds’, it thus behaved as ‘automatically after every X seconds’.

Unicode and 64-bit versions are also available, it should run on all Windows versions and doesn’t write to the registry.

Imagine is highly recommended.

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Oct 152011
 

Over two years ago I reviewed RealWorld Paint.COM and was impressed. Recently the author released a major update (Version: 2011.1) with a slightly changed name (RealWorld Paint). Once again he sought advice at the DonationCoder forums as well.

This new version has several new features, some of which are listed below that make RealWorld Paint even better and probably even more complete that is required for most users.

RealWorld Paint

The features are: Support layers with styles (individual layers can be filtered with the likes of blur, rotate and more and even worked on with Photoshop tools. This is followed naturally by Photoshop (.psd) format support and a few other formats too. More tools are added that include lasso and liquify. Additional command line support is explained here. An interesting animation tool (Create—>Create Animation) is also new which splits an image into rows and columns which then creates a sort of filmstrip animation with the divided parts of the image.

RealWorld Paint is available in a portable format as well.

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Oct 092011
 

Kestrel GX (Version: 1.2.1 as of this post) is an attractive photo editor that also helps organize photos into one or more databases. It supports many image formats including JPG and others but also Photoshop’s PSD format and RAW formats. Photos can be arranged into PDF albums to share easily with others. The usual edits like resize, rotate, flip, convert, remove red eye, saturation, rename and others are available but Kestrel GX lets you choose an external application (File —> Open In External Editor) for editing images.

Kestrel GX

Kestrel GX is perhaps mostly useful as a photo organizer. Not only it can be used to edit and search EXIF, IPTC and even GPS data associated with images but it can also be used divide images by rating, category and keywords and store them into their own database(s) managed by the program to view and also search for later.

Kestrel GX has print capability that includes a few ways or templates to print and also a slideshow (View —> Slideshow) with 163 transition effects. To top it all of it does both image and text watermarks (File —> Watermark Images) too. Kestrel GX is one of the most complete photo applications out there and is free for personal and educational use only. It requires Windows XP and up.

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Oct 032011
 

Bandizip (Version: 1.03 as of this post) is an archiver that support most if not all archive formats including the popular ZIP, 7Z, TAR, CAB, RAR and ISO formats and less common ones ones like XZ and BH.

Bandizip

More usefully Bandizip can create executables that will join big files that Bandizip itself has split and archived separately for easier portability. Bandizip can extract automatically from its context menu or let the user choose a destination. It also features what it calls high speed archiving. Here Bandizip recognizes file formats that are difficult or impossible to compress and bypasses them for faster processing. Another speed feature, also found and enabled in its setting, is the fast drag and drop. Here a big file is directly extracted into the chosen folder instead of being extracted into a temporary folder and then copied to the destination folder as is often the case with other – and indeed with small files using Bandizip – archivers or compressors.

Full Unicode (UTF-8) support is one other main advantage of Bandizip. It runs on XP and newer Windows and is available for 32-bit and 64-bit systems.

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